God Shows Up During Crisis

*if you are directly influenced, i am sorry if by reading this you are hearing this information for the first time. please know i am here to speak to, if needed –love, Crystal

God Shows Up During Crisis was the title of Sunday’s sermon. After a change of plans.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Character rises to the top over time and under pressure.

Why this sermon change?

I am not sure how much of this I should be posting on my blog – but this is real life stuff. And I know you will not judge, but instead, pray. As prayer is the most important right now.

This past week, Pastor Dave Cox informed the personnel team of his intention to resign. After meeting with him, the team encouraged him to take an extended leave of absence. In the days that followed, Pastor Dave admitted that he has been in an adulterous relationship with a staff member.

Both have resigned from their staff positions effective immediately. We will get back to you with further information as needed.

And all of this was just announced to our church throughout today. It was made known to all of us on staff yesterday. So, this is fresh friends. Real fresh.

So, how do we respond?

We’re each going to hurt in our own ways and in our own time. Whether that is anger, sadness, shock, whatever. And that’s ok. But don’t make decisions based on emotions.

That this will hit the fan and there’s a chance press will be all over it. We will be quick to judge and throw stones but we are all sinners and God still uses us for good purposes.

the mess in the messenger does NOT negate the message. We rally around Dave and his family, this former staff member and her husband and the church. We still love them. Even though their actions disqualify themselves from leadership the work that was done is not in vain. We rally in prayer. We rally toward our vision and mission as a church. Our mission does not change. To reach people for Christ and grow believers to be like Him.

I have NO DOUBT God is all over this. God is not thwarted. He isn’t up in heaven thinking, “oh gee, what am I am going to to with Westside without Pastor Dave?” God’s got this. He’s in the control. WE have just got to trust in HIM and His leadership. We do not follow man.

I do ask that you pray for the following:
1) Pray for Dave, his family and all of the parties involved
2) Our remaining church staff and faithful lay-leaders
3) Our church body (our family of believers)
4) Our mission as a church

How am I?

I am not doing well. I will be ok. But not right now. There is SO much history wrapped up in these two people in my life that I am having a very difficult time. Since age 14, these folks have been influential in my life and in my walk with the Lord. And although I trust in God and not in man… this is the biggest slap in the face of any of the past difficulty. Dave has been like the spiritual leader dad-type that I’ve always desired. He’s always been my inspirational leader. The female employee involved has been my mentor since I can remember. She hired me 3 years ago and has been influential in leading me to greater and greater places on staff. And such dear, dear friends. We’re family.

None of that is in vain but this situation is definitely something I’m looking at almost as an act of utter betrayal. Sin is sin but each sin can come with VERY different consequences and I am feeling, seeing, experiencing the consequences of their sin. And I beleive I have not even gotten to the heart of pain yet. And that makes this even harder. The love I have for these two and their families is bigger than I can fathom. And I seriously don’t know what to do from here. I am just so dang proud of my staff and our church body.

Praying and doing my best to trust.


  1. Terri

    Thanks Crystal for being real and sharing. It is a difficult time but we will rally and get past this difficult time even it doesn’t seem like it right now. Remember, God is still on his throne. He still controls everything. Thanks again. Love you!

  2. I am so, so sorry you are having to go through this Chrytal. I have been there. Know that you will get through this and God will use it. Try to keep your focus on Him, ask Him for daily bread, and He will give it.

  3. Crystal, we’ll be praying for you and your church and all those things asked for. I’m sorry that this puts you in such a position. About 15 years ago we had that same thing happen at our church and to be completely honest, we are just finally starting to get past what happened then. But it really has been a unifying thing for our church and caused huge growth. I pray that God will be with you and your church and your pastor and Becky and their families. I’m sorry that you have to walk through this.

    – Vic

  4. Crystal,

    I have a few words of my thoughts on my site that you can take a look at. Personally, I thought it best to not go into details, including names, in the blogosphere. I realize this is common knowledge now to thousands of people, and what you posted is directly from the announcement. I don’t mean to say that you are wrong in posting what you did – just as time goes on make sure to monitor your comments fields and other posts to ensure that your blog does not become a breeding ground for gossip.
    I’m right with you, sister. I haven’t been AS close to these people as you, but I love them. And we all need to grieve for a while. I woke up this morning thinking it was all a bad dream…

  5. i’m praying…

    and i’m proud of the way the church has handled the situation so far…so many churches in the past have kicked them out and forgot about them…they need prayer and support just as much as the people that were hurt from it…


  6. Julie

    Well gee, I guess I should have gone to church on Sunday. Holy Cow!

  7. The reassuring thing is that the Lord’s plans prevail. Even when we screw things up, He can and does redeem & I KNOW He will use this as a way to reshape and focus the fellowship, community, and ministry of your church.

    Praying for you.

  8. Pinky, hang in there. If my friend LOS likes you then you have to be pretty rad.

    This is going to be a hard time but as I’ve experianced, it will be difficult to talk about but with good direction on your churches part the two people will hopefully return to following Christ approperatly.

  9. Fellow church-grafikker working in the same cityas you, here. I know folks over there, and some are very dear life-long friends. You ALL have my prayers.

    In terms of YOU: Whether or not you’ve put your staff friends/family on too high a pedestal or not, Jesus will fill that void. Read the story of Lazarus’ resurrection, and you’ll see that our Savior, a man of “constant sorrows” is longing to hold you and weep with you for a time. As was stated so beautifully above and at that service, the pain you feel is real and natural, but it won’t stay for ever. You can’t see the road back to where you’d like to be emotionally and spiritually, but belive me, God can and will make that road … easily … and miraculously.

    In terms of YOUR RELATIONSHIPS: Sadly, you’ve been forced into viewing those you rightfully saw as “Pauls” to your “Timothy” as broken and needy. It’s almost like a child being forced to take on the role (mentally) of a caregiver for an ailing parent. It’s somewhat of a role change, but when you try to see them as God does – as little children making mistakes – after a while you may even be able to minister to them in their time of need.

    Bless you,
    – Sonofray

  10. “God cares more about our character than our comfort”. I’ve heard that before, but man does it feel good to hear again. I do understand what you are going through as a friend close to me, last year, had a similar situation. You feel so betrayed and angry. Angry at them for doing something so stupid and angry at yourself for not being able to see it happenning right in front of you. It’s so weird how someone else’s life and mistakes can turn so quickly into our problem. We always hava a tendency to make it about us.

    It’s so amazing the way your church is handling it. Although I do not know your church, I believe with the leadership example I’ve seen in the video, you guys will be fine.

    God help us all. We are all “screw-ups”. Have faith and know, that in time, the character of your church will be better if you stick to God’s word.

  11. I swear I heard a record needle yank off the record when he said it.

    My prayers are with you, your pastor, Dan Sutherland, Becky and her family, and your church. It sucks to have to clean one’s “house” like that.

    Sorry…..in Love…West

  12. brooke

    Crystal– ohhh wow– I had no clue what was going on. I will be praying hard for you ALL. love your sister in Christ–Brooke

  13. TY

    I don’t think this was right of you to post anything about this on a blog. I don’t agree with it at all and I am appalled that you work at the church and put this out here. I love both individuals and their families. I think it is a disgrace that this is out here, even though they could have gotten it off our website, at least they were getting it from the church’s OFFICIAL site, and actually they have removed it.

  14. TY,

    I am incredibly sorry if my posting about the events at Westside were offensive to you personally. You are the first to say so and I thank you for your honesty. I sent the following to the email address you provided, but it returned as invalid.

    As a member of Westside for nearly 8 years and a member of the staff for over 3, I too love all parties involved and have been close each of them for years. These were and STILL ARE my dear friends. In no way is what wrote suggesting otherwise. As a member of the Communication staff, I am actually the one that removed the video and re-issued our public statement on the website at the request of our intermin adminstrator. I also re-wrote the statement in my posting so that it would read the same as the public statement from Westside. We’re not hiding anything and I think it’s important to show that.

    Your feelings are valid but the best way I know how to process situations I don’t like or understand is to write. I am first and foremost a human just trying to grasp and understand a situation that I could not control.

    I hope you will read the posts that followed the first. Folks all around Westside have left comments and emailed me saying how helpful the blog has been to their healing process, including members of the staff. If my honesty in the situation can help others cope and heal and find some understanding… then yea God.

    I would be happy to speak with you about this and anything else at any time.


  15. TY-
    Although I don’t think I know you (I was also on staff at WFC from 2003-2006 but now live in Tx)…I don’t think Crystal is wrong for writing about this. Not only has she blogged about it, but many other church leaders have (just search for the church name on technorati).

    The way WFC has handled this is being commended by churches worldwide. Yes, worldwide. One of the pastor’s sons was encouraged by someone (another pastor at another church in another state) who posted about it, showed the video, etc. He even left a comment on that person’s site.

    Although they screwed up, I know for a FACT that at least the pastor and his family have been encouraged by the prayers and support they are receiving from people they don’t even know…all who have come across this tragedy by Crystal’s blog, or many of the other bloggers out there. I have not been in contact with the other party involved but I am sure she feels the comfort that people are praying for her and her husband.

    I have also shared the video with senior staff in my own church. I spoke with one after he viewed it and he said that video needs to be sent out to churches everywhere. Not to shame our brother and sister in Christ but because it was handled SO WELL and this problem is SO prevalent in our society. THIS is how a church should handle a situation like this.

    WFC is very near and dear to my heart — my husband and i are going back on a whim because of this event to be close to our friends and former staff members who we love and care for very much.

    although i appreciate your concern, hiding this under a bush will do the church no good. processing it in a tactful and biblical manner edifies us all.

  16. Fred

    Crystal- Thanks for the sensitive and humble spirit in which you communicate. Yes, you must communicate. As another local believer with friends and connections with churches all over the KC area… we are still the BODY of Christ… and must weep and rejoice with one another. Part of the spiritual realm is affected with sin in our camps. No one is ‘without sin’ so if this helps HUMBLE us all … then so be it. GOD HATES PRIDE. Our mega-churches must be even more HUMBLE in these days of such great deception and arrogance. God will give grace to the humble but will resist the proud. Love and humility are connected… may that be the growing atmosphere of WFC ! Our heart felt prayers are with you. God bless. Fred

  17. Believer48

    This seems to keep happening in the Body of Christ, sadly. Our pastor has strong accountability and honesty with other men weekly–where they ask the hard questions. Human nature is just too fallible not to require it—no one is exempt from the possibility of falling into sin. No one.
    At age 48, I have seen this happen many times with leaders–and part of the problem may be that we honor them so highly, that I think they can forget they are still fallable human beings needing God’s help daily….(like us).
    Just remember who your Lord is—Jesus–and you will be okay! He will never fail or forsake you. He is still the same, and always will be.:)

  18. Jenn Arman

    Crystal – I just want to say that I am sorry. I can tell that you are personally effected by this and I know the feelings of hurt and betrayal all too well. My prayer is for you and your church family that bitterness would not take root in your hearts because of this situation. Be on guard, the enemy loves to use situations like this to tear people anyway he can (up, down, apart, whatever).

    We recently had some staff at my church asked to step down from their positions (the reasons were completely different – it wasn't a sin issue in that case), but the hurt and anger was still there. I know that the situations are not the same, but these are very dear friends of mine that were asked to step down and there have been some repercussions because of that decision.

    One thing I have learned from that situation is that sometimes people make difficult decisions (right or wrong) and whether we agree with them or not we need to make sure not to hold them in bondage because of how we feel about the decisions that were made.

    I love you and will be praying for you and for all involved 🙂

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